Saturday, 8 February 2014

Stewart Island Brown Kiwi - Tokoeka

Stewart Island Brown Kiwi - southern Tokoeka - are a very special kiwi. These beautiful birds are special for several reasons.

Unlike other kiwi, southern Tokoeka are active during the daytime. This means a visitor to Stewart Island has more of a chance of seeing kiwi in the wild, than on the North or South Islands. My opportunity came on a dull morning near the old Long Harry Hut site on the North-West Circuit. Between 9am and 10am we saw 6 kiwi, and I don't just mean that we caught the fleeting glimpse of a brown backside in the undergrowth. When we sighted a kiwi we kept quite still and were able to watch then feeding, and were witness to what we thought was a territory dispute between some juveniles.

We were torn between wanting to take photos and properly observing them. Observation won out, especially as it was really too dark to take photos in the bush, but kiwi number 4 stood in the path in a lighter spot so I took a shot.

Some people don't have to tramp for four days to get their first sighting, and have seen kiwi in the village of Oban, on Ulva Island or at Mason Bay. Even if you don't see a kiwi, you're likely to spot its footprints in the sand.

An interesting fact: Kiwi outnumber Stewart Island residents 50:1 !

To find out more facts about Tokoeka, check out this article published by Sircet, the Stewart Island Rakiura Community and Environment Trust.